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State’s RNC members sided with new GOP chairman

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The head of Hawaii’s Republican Party on Friday said all three of the state’s representatives to the Republican National Committee backed the winner of an intense fight for the group’s chairmanship.

State GOP Chairman Jonah Kaauwai said he, Miriam Hellreich and Brennon Morioka voted for Reince Priebus of Wisconsin.

"We recognized that Reince is a proven winner and the effective leader the RNC needs going into the 2012 election," Kaauwai said.

But his statement didn’t elaborate on whether the Hawaii members supported Priebus through all seven ballots, or backed another candidate in earlier rounds and sided with Priebus later.

None responded to requests for comment left by e-mail or phone.

Priebus succeeded Michael Steele, who was long supported by Hellreich, a veteran GOP fundraiser, and Morioka, a former state GOP chair and ex-director of the state Department of Transportation.

Hellreich nominated Steele to remain chairman on Friday, according to and a blogger for who was in the Oxen Hill, Md., convention hall with other journalists where the RNC was meeting.

Steele eventually pulled out of the competition before the fifth round and endorsed another candidate, Maria Cino.

Morioka did not attend the meeting and gave his proxy to Hellreich, according to state GOP Executive Director Dylan Nonaka.

Kaauwai, who had not named his preferred candidate, thanked Steele.

"Steele supported Hawaii like no other RNC chairman in history and we will forever be grateful," Kaauwai said.

The former chairman was instrumental in bringing the RNC winter meeting last year to Hawaii.


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